Launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the Diamond Route is a biodiversity conservation, education and outreach initiative from De Beers and its South African Shareholders (the Oppenheimer family and Ponahalo Investments- De Beers’ Black Economic Empowerment partner).
The Diamond Route (http://www.diamondroute.com) however shows that regardless of the industry, businesses need not impose any limits on their ambitions to contribute positively to the conservation, management and restoration of our natural capital base.
The Diamond Route grew out of De Beers’ century-old practice of using its mining-license landholdings for nature conservation purposes. Mining license land holdings are always considerably larger than the total footprint of any mining operation and De Beers now actively manages roughly 6 hectares of land for biodiversity conservation purposes for every one used commercially. It comprises ten sites covering some 250 000 hectares and stretches from the deserts of Namaqualand on South Africa’s west coast to the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve on South Africa’s northern border, right up to the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana with the Orapa Game Park being the newest addition.
All Diamond Route sites are managed according to a shared biodiversity conservation management plan. In addition to its success in ecosystem services, conservation and restoration, the Diamond Route also supports many species conservation programs ranging from the “big-5” (black and white rhino) to the obscure (Namaqua dwarf adder).
The Diamond Route runs a range of education and training programmes and has formed development partnerships with numerous local communities and organisations. It has created 261 permanent jobs and supported over 140 biodiversity research projects.
The Diamond Route links ten conservation sites in southern Africa covering 2500 km² in total to support a range of programmes, including:
• ecosystem and species conservation (including several endangered species)
• the development of urban biodiversity conservation,
• sustainable water management,
• climate change mitigation and management initiatives
• heritage conservation
• social and economic development